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Thursday, 1 November 2012

On the subject of Suicide

Last night all those using South West Trains were delayed. There were various signalling problems late on in the day, but the majority of the carnage was due to somebody committing suicide at Wimbledon.

I’ll moan about delays and endlessly promote the need for better service, but what I don’t understand is some of the vitriolic bile being spewed out by some on Twitter last night. Yes, the disorganisation is an issue and yes, the communication of the Twitter team should be matched by the staff on the platforms, or as someone rightly said: “We all understand & sympathise re disruptions/delays, all we ask is accurate info.”

I’m not going to name and shame, for it really isn’t my place, but did you happen to see some of the tweets last night? Oh. My. God. Sometimes I hate Twitter. It makes you acutely aware that people exist who have a completely different opinion to life and the universe. What on earth is the point of telling the South West Trains twitter team that they are (in no particular order): “W*nkers”, “c*nts”, “get up off your ar$e” “shower of useless sh*te” (to name but a few).

In all the melee, it seems to have been forgotten that someone died. And according to the Samaritans, someone takes their own life with alarming regularity on the railways. Instead of blithely commenting on their selfishness, or, as in one particularly grim case, offer to “get a firing squad to save them the bother”, perhaps you non-sympathisers could stop and think of the human element. Firstly of the train staff and emergency services who had to bear witness to such a horrific scene and secondly to somebody who felt so incredibly unwell/desperate/crazed that they felt there was no way out. If you’re lucky enough to have never suffered from the kind of mental torture that leaves you feeling like this, bravo. But don’t expect the great majority of us to applaud your ill-informed opinions on suicide.


  1. Maybe the commuter belt served by SWT contains a disproportionate number of insensitive, selfish b'stards? But despite the arrogant buffoonery you describe, I think your sentiments/disappointment in the few will be recognised by a far greater number of people as the majority take on this increasingly frequent and visible display of modern despair. As for SWT, they could still do much more to improve their customer communication skills of course and, here's a thought, maybe employ people to work at their outlying stations after 13:00, which might allow Train Guards to concentrate on keeping their trains moving, rather than administering first, second and third aid to passengers taken ill along the line (this week Earlsfield seems to have been the favoured place for passengers to be unwell, with accompanying disruption). But that's just a side issue. Sadly, the more serious mental health issues faced by society won't go away - and neither will the arrogant buffoons. Which is why people like you should keep on reminding them just how stupid they make themselves look.

  2. Now, I've only been a productive guard for a little while (about 8 weeks), but I have seen that people tend to be very polite in person (my passengers on the 18.41 WAT-BSK on that Friday some weeks ago were fantastic, very understanding, patient and absolutely wonderful and it was a privilege to be of service). It's something about the anonymity of twitter that does cause the bile to spew forth, presumably because they know they'd be arrested or thrown off the train if they tried it in person! Your "shower of useless sh*te" person being, undoubtedly, a key example...

  3. Thanks Richard, I hope you're right: I hope the intolerant are in the minority. I'm not saying it isn't frustrating to be delayed by a significant amount of time, I just think, because of the immediacy of Twitter, people don't sometimes stop and think about what they're actually saying. Or maybe they do know exactly what they're saying and think we're mad for thinking the way we do?

    And Daniel, agreed, the anonymity of Twitter is akin to the old days of chat rooms in the mid-90's. Only now it's not just us 'saddos' using online comms, it's everyone. People should remember that it's real life, not just some empty world where you can say what you like without result.

  4. While standing on the West Bound Canary Wharf platform a few years ago, it was announced that there were severe delays were occuring because a man had committed suicide somewhere along the line. The man in front of me immediately exclaimed, loudly, "Oh, the Tw*t", because, clearly, the inconvenience of delay outweighs the cost of a human life.